Get your best summer body with deep core work that will power up all your poses.
Want to get into an arm balance or hold one even longer? Strong deep-abdominal muscles are the ticket. They also give you better posture and keep your torso toned. This creative vinyasa sequence builds your core from the inside out; each pose becomes easier as you master the one before it. And the more awareness you cultivate for how your torso and limbs work together to create the shapes, the easier it is to fire up your core.
From hands and knees, place your forearms and palms on the floor. Make sure your elbows are under your shoulders and your upper arms are vertical. Walk your feet back, keeping your legs and pelvis in line with your shoulders. Gently draw your front ribs and lower belly back toward your spine. Dig your toe pads into the floor as you reach from your pelvis and thighs through your heels. Lift the back of your skull just enough to maintain the natural curve of your neck, and lengthen out through the crown of your head.
Side-to-Side Dolphin Plank
From Dolphin Plank, walk both feet to the left. Press more firmly though your right forearm, lifting both sides of your pelvis evenly, and reach back through both thighs and heels. Lengthen through the crown of your head.
Dolphin Plank Oblique Variation
From Dolphin Plank, keeping both forearms on the floor, come to the little-toe side of your left foot, stacking your feet and legs in the middle of your mat in line with the space between your arms. Lean your weight evenly into both forearms, and reach through your feet while also lengthening through the crown of your head. Draw your low belly back and feel as though you are lifting the front of the pelvis up through the chest. Reach the back of your pelvis toward your heels.
Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog
From Down Dog, draw your right knee into your rib cage, keeping your hips high. You may need to lift your left heel off the ground while drawing your front body toward your back body. Keeping the knee near the ribs, push forward with your hands while reaching up and back with your pelvis and down through your left heel. Pause. Feel the fullness of the back body, the engagement of your core, and the integration of the entire pose. Keeping that connection, slowly extend your right leg back and up.
Come forward to Dolphin Plank; bring the right knee to the outer upper right arm, hugging the knee toward your midline. Pause. Lift the front body toward the back body, as you press back through your left heel. Hug the arms toward one another, keeping them straight and strong, as you reach through your crown. Take 5 deep breaths. Maintain integrity in your torso as you slowly return to Three-Legged Down Dog.
Repeat Knee-to-Arm Plank. Then bend your elbows and lower as in Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose). Maintain the lift and the length of your body for 5 slow breaths. Push back up to Knee-to-Arm Plank, and slowly return to Three-Legged Down Dog.
Eka Pada Koundinyasana II
Repeat Knee-to-Arm Plank and Knee-to-Arm Chaturanga, and then play with the arm balance. From Knee-to-Arm Chaturanga, begin to lean your heart forward and straighten your right leg. Keep your core engaged as you maintain length through your back leg. With this dynamic engagement of the back leg and your willingness to lean forward, you will create the lightness that lifts the back leg with ease.